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COVID19 In Our Rear-view Mirror

It’s so close you can almost touch it. But not just yet. I refer to the time when the COVID19 pandemic will be, like Lubbock, Texas in the Mac Davis song, in our rear-view mirrors. I can’t imagine what Mac had against Lubbock, but he was sure pleased to be leaving. Things are getting better but we’re not there just yet. However, many restrictions have been lifted, or at least eased.

There are obvious post-pandemic-return-to-normal things that people look forward to; perhaps the most popular being the ability to travel again. I’m not much of a traveller myself, but even the chance to take a daytrip somewhere will be welcomed. Nor am I a great one for socializing, but having groups of people gather in homes and backyards, without masks, distancing, or trying to figure out who is in what bubble will also be grand.

A return to normal sidewalk behaviour, where passing pedestrians smile and may even nod at each other rather than shunning each other as if they were lepers will be, like going maskless, a breath of fresh air to me.

The things I am looking forward to are more subtle. Starting with not having to wear a mask – ever – anywhere – anytime. I’ve never had any inclination to the medical profession, and the pandemic has shown me just how fortunate I am in that respect. In a word, I hate wearing a mask. As a wearer of eyeglasses, I find that a mask has one of two effects: either my glasses fog up, or fall off. Don’t get me wrong, I wear a mask whenever it is required, and have throughout the pandemic, but the instant I can take it off, I do so. The concept of an airgasm is not lost on me.

I also look forward to a return to normal sidewalk etiquette. In an effort to maintain proper social distancing, people have taken to giving each other a wide, often very wide, berth on sidewalks, often stepping completely off the sidewalk into the street, around parked cars then retaking the sidewalk once again. When the pandemic first struck my city posted ‘Share the road’ signs in an effort to let drivers know people would be encroaching on their turf. Under normal conditions this overt avoidance of approaching walkers may well be construed as impolite. A return to normal sidewalk behaviour, where passing pedestrians smile and may even nod at each other rather than shunning each other as if they were lepers will be, like going maskless, a breath of fresh air to me.

I fear that one of the long-term effects of this hand sterilizing practice will be the loss of required antibodies, the things that help us fight all sorts of things on a daily basis, leading to a variety of illnesses.

In Montreal we had a curfew. There were strong opinions both for and against it. However, it was really a bit of a paper lion. Between the hours of 8:00 pm and 5:00 am no one was allowed to be outside. Mind you, there were exceptions – many exceptions. Frontline workers, from medical staff to bus drivers were allowed to be out for work. Many other jobs were considered essential, including food delivery services. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the now ended curfew regarding the spread of COVID, but I have to admit that on winter nights the serenity it provided was a nice change.

The incessant squirting of hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting stores, houses of worship, malls, banks, bars, and restaurants will be something I won’t miss. I fear that one of the long-term effects of this hand sterilizing practice will be the loss of required antibodies, the things that help us fight all sorts of things on a daily basis, leading to a variety of illnesses. But then, did I mention I’m not a doctor?

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Designate Downtown Montreal A Region And Reopen Businesses

A popular Montreal bar in pre-COVID times

The Province of Quebec has been under strict anti-coronavirus regulations for several weeks now. These measures include a province-wide curfew. From 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. we are not allowed out. Unless you have a very good reason – and proof thereof – you are facing fines of up to $6000 should you break the curfew.

If your work has been deemed essential, and you must be out during curfew for reasons of that work, you are exempt from the penalties, assuming you can provide appropriate documentation. You can also walk your dog within a one kilometre radius of your home. No, you can’t borrow or rent a pooch to go out for a smoke.

You can also walk your dog within a one kilometre radius of your home. No, you can’t borrow or rent a pooch to go out for a smoke

Obviously, if you are out with a dog, and are approached by the police, you are going to be asked for identification. This is where I see some potential for trouble. Calls of a police state can almost be heard ringing out across the city.

How tough is the curfew being enforced? Consider that it took the provincial court to rule that you can’t enforce the curfew on homeless people. How could you possibly fine people for refusing to stay in homes that they don’t have?

The curfew covers the entire province, but there is a plea to look at things in a little more piecemeal manner. There are places, outlying areas, referred to as ‘regions’ (it works better in French, as technically everywhere is a region, but Les régions usually means those places outside of Montreal).

Many of these areas are not densely populated and are not suffering the same COVID-19 experience as folks who live in bigger cities. Many people in these almost COVID-free regions are asking to have the curfew lifted and allow store, bars and, restaurants in their area to reopen.

I therefore put forth the notion that this area be considered a ‘region’ … and suggest that the government allow the bars and restaurants in this four-square-block area to reopen

Should the government opt to heed these requests and consider lifting some of the restrictions in les régions, I hope they will consider my suggestion. Above is a map of a small section of the downtown Montreal core. It is primarily, but not entirely, non-residential. There are no elementary or high schools to be found. There is part of a university, but it is currently operating online.

As the second map indicates with a lack of a blue dot, as of January 28, 2021, this region has very few cases of COVID-19. I therefore put forth the notion that this area, which is dense with stores, bars and, restaurants, be considered a ‘region’ (perhaps name it after the Venerable Matt Talbot, patron saint for alcoholics) and suggest that the government allow these businesses in this four-square-block area to reopen. Have them, like convenience stores, close at 7:30 p.m. thereby giving folks a chance to get home before 8:00 p.m. It’s not perfect, but some business has got to be better than none. At least let these establishments open for lunchtime and afternoon drinkers.

How could you possibly fine people for refusing to stay in homes that they don’t have?

There are certainly bars and restaurants in other sections of downtown Montreal, but I’ll be happy to start with this section One has to choose one’s battles.

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Why I Should Be Canada’s Next Governor General

The Canadian Governor General (GG), Julie Payette, has resigned amid a scandal that revolves around what has been called a toxic work environment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – and Ms Payette is, in fact, an actual rocket scientist and former astronaut – to realize that the position of GG is perhaps the most plum of all jobs.

According to the Government of Canada’s website:
The Governor General has important parliamentary responsibilities: Summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament. Setting out the government’s program by reading the Speech from the Throne. Giving Royal Assent, which makes acts of Parliament into law.

But the best part is that he or she doesn’t even have to write the speech. The ruling party, who will oversee things, prepares that for the GG. All they have to do is show up and read the speech.

This means the GG as the Queen’s representative in Canada, reads a Throne Speech at the opening of sessions of Parliament. Once a year or so the appointed GG sits before all the elected members and tells them what to do. But the best part is that he or she doesn’t even have to write the speech. The ruling party, who will oversee things, prepares that for the GG. All they have to do is show up and read the speech.

The GG also gives Royal Assent that – presto – makes an act of Parliament a real law. The skill required to carry out this noble undertaking is one rubber stamp.

When a GG is replaced, they continue to receive that as a pension, and also have a few years worth of $100,000 expense account. Did I mention this is a plum position?

Many Canadians have said this position is no longer required. Not that they are against pomp and circumstance, but the GG comes at a price. An annual salary estimated to be $150,000 plus staff and housing. When a GG is replaced, they continue to receive that as a pension, and also have a few years worth of $100,000 expense account. Did I mention this is a plum position?

So you can understand why I am interested in being Canada’s next Governor General.

I find myself in a bit of a fix: at 61 years of age I am four years from pension, yet few employers will consider someone of my age. In essence, I could use the cash.

To guarantee I won’t try to gum up the process, I promise to not even read the acts. Thump, thump, thump, and it’s off to the courts.

Over the years many people have asked me if I work in radio because of my voice. I can read a speech as well as the next person. Particularly one I didn’t have to write. Bring on the Teleprompters and let’s get at it.

I used to be a Commissioner for Oaths, this necessitated my developing a sure hand with a rubber stamp. Push those passed acts of parliament along and I’ll have them signed and sealed in no time. To guarantee I won’t try to gum up the process, I promise to not even read the acts. Thump, thump, thump, and it’s off to the courts.

The Government website goes on to list some other, less formal, duties of the GG: Promoting a sense of identity, recognizing the achievements of outstanding Canadians, receiving foreign dignitaries, travelling overseas as the representative of Canada, hosting and taking part in official events.

A quick scan of those obligations gives you an idea of the real role of the GG – namely, party host. I’ve been at more parties than I can count. I’m certain I can handle a few drunk dignitaries, shake hands with people who have achieved greatness, and cut ribbons at new shopping malls. And I’m a big fan of parades.

I’m certain I can handle a few drunk dignitaries, shake hands with people who have achieved greatness, and cut ribbons at new shopping malls

Frankly, I think the GG job was designed with me in mind. A bit of officialdom over which I daren’t tread, and lots of glad-handing. All this and, to make it even more up my alley, they throw in a big house and several staff. A car and driver as well.

Prime Minister Trudeau, please feel free to contact me through this blog to arrange a time to discuss the opportunity. As you can see above, I have even accelerated the process by altering the official GG photo to include myself.

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Sane Media Wakes Up, Smells Coffee

I have never been fond of the term ‘mainstream media/news’. I prefer to refer to it as the sane media/news. Like Trump’s phrase ‘fake news’, it makes no sense. If it’s fake, it’s not news. The fabrications broadcast on several far-right outlets are not deserving of the ‘news’ classification.

If it’s fake, it’s not news. The fabrications broadcast on several far-right outlets are not deserving of the ‘news’ classification

But why did it take the recent armed-insurrection-attempted-coup-moronic-riot to finally coax the sane media to turn against the instigator? For all but three weeks of Trump’s time in office the sane media, with few exceptions, gave him way more credit than he deserved. Wake up and smell the coffee; he didn’t just become a madman this month.

Once all hell broke loose, the gloves came off. You could almost sense the relief as anchor after reporter after analyst after guest let it all out. It must have been cathartic. After toeing the line, after showing the requisite respect for the Office of the President, it all came to the surface and boiled over.

For all but three weeks of Trump’s time in office the sane media, with few exceptions, gave him way more credit than he deserved.

I can only imagine how many times over the last four years sane White House correspondents were temped to treat Trump as he treated them. How many times did Jim Acosta want to change his reply from ‘But Mr President you called on me’ to ‘Don’t be such an asshole Trump, you called on me’?

An early example of the frustration bubbling up came from CNN’s Dana Bash who, after a candidates’ debate between Trump and Biden described it, accurately indeed, as a shit-show. But for the most part the sane media has bitten its collective tongue, until, that is, January 6th. Since then it has been all out wat between them and Trump. He always considered it thusly.

You could almost sense the relief as anchor after reporter after analyst after guest let it all out. It must have been cathartic

But they should not have waited.

Frankly, the sane media should have been all over this presidential imposter from the very outset. It’s one thing to criticize politicians, that’s all part of a democracy. But to not raise alarm bells in exceptional cases is a dereliction of duty. The average consumer of news fell into one of two camps: pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Regrettably, for the last four years there has been no middle ground, no happy medium.

(Dana) Bash was correct, but her timing was off by about three-and-a-half years.

FOX News and other right-wing outlets didn’t even try to maintain a balanced position, but CNN etc. seemed to hope against hope that by not straying leftward, perhaps things could appear to be normal. It was not possible: Bash was correct, but her timing was off by about three-and-a-half years.

I don’t imagine the right-wingers will afford Joe Biden much time before they are calling him names and concocting lies – in fact I believe they have already started.

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What Part Of Don’t Travel Do You Not Understand?

My next-door neighbour (or neighbor as they prefer), the USA, is a huge country. With a population of some 350 million people, and rising, it is a vast land. It is strong, patriotic, and advanced. Yet it also has one of the highest per-capita rates of COVID-19 in the world.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the USA has the world’s sixth highest rate of novel coronavirus. This is something that, as a neighbour, is hard to come to grips with. Yet the same can be said, for many reasons, about the last four years under the out-going president. Trump played to his base, those who deny scientific facts, and he foolishly and dangerously went easy on fighting the virus so as not to be seen as limiting people’s rights. No mask enforcement. No real lock-downs. Both of which contributed to the high rate of infection.

The libertarian spirit of individual freedom is all fine and dandy, until it affects others. I have the right to swing my arm until it hits your elbow

Those out in the streets and malls prancing about mask-less in open defiance of suggestions and regulations, are placing fellow citizens in danger. The libertarian spirit of individual freedom is all fine and dandy, until it affects others. I have the right to swing my arm until it hits your elbow.

Yet it’s easy to blame the Trump nutters.

Today is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in the USA. Traditionally the busiest day of the year for travel. You might assume that, under the circumstances of a worldwide pandemic, coupled with the poor handling of the virus, the number of people travelling would be almost nil. But no.

These are people I call ‘Fair Weather Virus Warriors’. They are all in favour of masks, social-distancing, self-confinement right up to the point where it really affects them

As I sit writing, CNN is providing its annual airport coverage. Delays due to weather, but mostly lines of people waiting to board flights. Not all of them can be Trump supporters, or he would have won the election!

These are people I call ‘Fair Weather Virus Warriors’. They are all in favour of masks, social-distancing, self-confinement right up to the point where it really affects them. Like when it comes to visiting at Thanksgiving. Then maybe the virus isn’t all that bad. When push comes to shove, They’ll do what they want, regardless of outcome. Scientifically minded experts are predicting a rise in COVID-19 cases in the weeks after Thanksgiving. But they’ve just got to fly to Aunt Edith’s place for turkey with the folks.

Here in Quebec, we have a similar high infection situation. The province is the second largest, yet has the most cases of COVID-19. There are many reasons, mostly seniors’ residences that were neglected for decades. But the government is trying to balance the upcoming holiday season, a time when families gather, with stemming the second wave of COVID-19.

With a bit of luck and a whole lot of common sense, we may be able to avoid, or at least reduce a post-Christmas post-Hanukkah spike in cases

To that end, bars and restaurants will remain closed until at least January of next year, During the period of December 24 – 27 people can gather at home in groups of up to ten people. But not all four days, just two. New Year’s Eve celebrations have been cancelled. Yep, no gatherings of any size for New Year. That’s it, that’s all.

Is there a mass outpouring of threats to resist, ignore these restrictions? Not really. The majority of people seem to understand that this is not going to be a normal holiday season. With a bit of luck and a whole lot of common sense, we may be able to avoid, or at least reduce a post-Christmas post-Hanukkah spike in cases.

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Make Votes Count; Hire More Counters

The last polls in the United States have been closed for more than two days. Still no final result. I think I’m on a first name basis with all the CNN folks as they fill time during this neverendum referendum. With the COVID pandemic running amok, many people chose not to stand in line at voting places, opting to mail-in their ballots instead. The processing of this unusually large number of mail-ins is causing havoc and delay in determining an outcome.

Those of us who live in open democracies cherish the ability to exercise our franchise. So why does the USA seem to treat it with disdain?

Those of us who live in open democracies cherish the ability to exercise our franchise. Men and women, those we honour one week from now on Remembrance Day, have given their lives to ensure this freedom remains. It’s a lofty concept. So why does the USA seem to treat it with disdain?

One reason could be that the exercising of franchise, the process of voting, costs money. I don’t mean the billions of dollars spent by parties on partisan campaigning – buses, planes, in the good old days trains – I am talking about the actual casting of votes.

One reason could be that the exercising of franchise, the process of voting, costs money.

Here in Canada we have an entity called Elections Canada, defined thusly: The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer is the non-partisan agency responsible for administering Canadian federal elections and referendums. Elections Canada is an office of the Parliament of Canada, and reports directly to Parliament rather than to the Government of Canada. Yes indeed, one non-partisan set of voting rules applied right across the country to see to the smooth running of federal elections.

It is the responsibility of this non-partisan body to ensure that, based on local population, there are sufficient polling stations in any given area. Of course this entails making sure these stations are properly staffed. It is rare that extremely long lines form at voting places. Certainly there are busier times; lunch, immediately after work are two examples.

Once the voting is over, and all those who made it to the polling station before the deadline, even if they are waiting in line, have cast their ballots, the counting begins. I understand that in the US many items are on the ballot, and they often use voting machines. Regardless, if the counting of votes takes this long, there are not enough vote counters. Plain and simple.

If the democratic process is so dear to the hearts of Americans, wouldn’t you think it would warrant paying a sufficient number of people to count the votes cast?

If the democratic process is so dear to the hearts of Americans, wouldn’t you think it would warrant paying a sufficient number of people to count the votes cast? Whether ‘today’ ballots or ‘mail-in’, they all must be counted.

There will be challenges and requests for recounts, that’s all part of the procedure. But before ballots can be challenged or recounted, they have to be counted.

A little respect for the process would go a long way.

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Code Red On Fun

Some weeks ago the Government of Quebec established a colour system to illustrate the various levels of the COVID-19 alert around the province. Never wanting to be left out, the city of Montreal has, as of yesterday, plunged headfirst into the highest – red – level.

Yep, it’s scientifically demonstrable that activities that may lead to enjoyment evidently pose the greatest threat

This Red Alert will be in effect for 28 days and comes with a whole passel of restrictions; too many to list here, but a few of them include bars and restaurant dining rooms being closed (restaurants may provide take-out and delivery). Gatherings of people in public or private are now verboten.

Dan Powers USA TODAY

If you take a look at the list of restrictions you can’t help but notice that there is a direct correlation between the chance of contracting the Novel Coronavirus and having fun. Yep, it’s scientifically demonstrable that activities that may lead to enjoyment evidently pose the greatest threat.

You can have teeth extracted, bunions removed, or a colonoscopy. But for Sweet Jaysus’ sake don’t sit six feet apart in a pub for a drink or two

If the congregation is limited to 25 people, you can attend religious services. Kids can go to school. You can have teeth extracted, bunions removed, or a colonoscopy. But for Sweet Jaysus’ sake don’t sit six feet apart in a pub for a drink or two. Have a bit of a flutter at the casino perhaps? No way.

We enter a new season, not autumn, but open season on fun. I heard on the radio today that the biggest spreader of the virus isn’t bars, restaurants, casinos, or even schools. It’s retail outlets. People handling goods in stores then putting them back, making payments, all the usual transactions involved in commerce have been called out as significant culprits in the spread of COVID-19.

Yet stores can remain open even under Code Red. Closing them again would allegedly cause many of them to go tits up. For some a little retail therapy will do them good. If I never set foot in another store I’d be just fine.

Much like Donkey in the Shrek movies and although we are only one full day in, I find myself often asking “Are we there yet?”.

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Grass Roots And Grassroots

 Photograph: Harry Durrant/Getty Images

The Grass Roots was an American rock band in the late sixties and early seventies. Their biggest, but certainly not their only, hit was Midnight Confessions, a song that still gets played on many oldies stations.

On the other hand, the concept of Grassroots politics is significantly different, but no less an integral part of US culture. According to Wikipedia, “Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to affect change at the local, regional, national, or international level”.

That’s the way politics used to work. Men and women – sometimes children – working locally to affect change. Community groups and lawn signs are all part of grassroots politics. Striving for improvements to society from the bottom up.

Today we see the natural progression (regression?) of negativity. Attack ads are much more prevalent than are those promoting positivity.

But that was then and this is now. The man/woman in the street’s opinion really doesn’t seem to matter, which may lead to many of them not bothering to vote. Perhaps I’m being naïve; perhaps it never did. Yet I have to believe that without this input the system is doomed to fail.

I sense that the beginning of the end was the advent of, and essentially total switch to, negative politicking. Grassroots politics focus on positive change; making things better. A new municipal swimming pool or a new president. Today we see the natural progression (regression?) of negativity. Attack ads are much more prevalent than are those promoting positivity. “Never mind what I will do, we must stop my opponent from doing whatever he or she will do” is the mantra.

In Canada, the 1993 election provided us with an example of how our two countries view negative political advertising. The Progressive Conservative (oxymoron?) Party of Canada ran an ad featuring very unflattering photos of Liberal candidate Jean Chrétien, who suffers from “partial paralysis” of his face, which he believes was a birth defect and which his mother thought was the result of a childhood disease or virus. The PCP went on to lose the election and many consider this ad to have been the turning point. Canadians are nice folks; the electors did not like the nastiness.

I fear that a candidate’s platform – remember those? – is less crucial today than criticizing the opponent’s promises – dare I say it – ad nauseam .

However, in the early days of negative campaigning, this mud-slinging was kept to actual pre-election periods and was done by backroom flunkies, for the most part, the candidates kept their hands clean except for ‘approving’ the ads, of course. But the current resident of the Oval Office practices it on a daily basis all year round. From his favourite “fake news” to his total disregard for scientific facts, he constantly demeans the Office he holds.

When United States Senators can say one thing four years ago, then completely flip-flop on that statement today shows incredible disrespect for those who elect them, to say nothing of the process.

Sowing lies and mistruths from the highest office in the land is something totally out of character for any inhabitant of the White House. Sadly this distortion of facts and warping of the electoral process has exposed the many people who are easily duped. The time has come for elected officials at all levels of government to consider what is best for their constituents, not what is best for their own political careers.

When United States Senators can say one thing four years ago, then completely flip-flop on that statement today shows incredible disrespect for those who elect them, to say nothing of the process.

It is a sad turn of events indeed.

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My Neighbour Is Sick

For as long as I can remember we’ve had the same neighbour. We go back years, decades, indeed centuries. We live in what in the real estate world is known as a semi-detached. Which of course means it is also semi-attached; we share one very long partition, I am hesitant to call it a wall, given what my neighbour has in mind for the other side of his house.

We are very similar in so many ways, and get along just fine for the most part, even if we disagree on how to spell neighbours. Oh, sure we have the occasional spat, a little falling out. But when push comes to shove we have each other’s back. For instance, my neighbour had an ungodly upset on September 11, 2001 when one of the central family members was struck down in an egregious act of violence. We did what we could to help the situation and felt our bond grow stronger as often happens in difficult times.

Before the current pandemic, we often spent time in each other’s place; in fact, we are each other’s most frequent visitor. Over the years many members of my extended family have married into my neighbour’s clan, and vice versa.

Our cultures are similar, sports, arts, entertainment are all on the same track. Not identical mind you, but shall I say variations on a theme. The way we run our household and make decisions is, again, on the surface comparable, yet dig deeper and it is almost like night and day.

Before the current pandemic, we often spent time in each other’s place; in fact, we are each other’s most frequent visitor. Over the years many members of my extended family have married into my neighbour’s clan, and vice versa.

All in all, we are a pretty close pair. Which is why I write this. You see it has occurred to me recently, after poring over newspapers and electronic media, that my neighbour is sick, undeniably very ill. Over the past four years there has been something akin to a cancer coursing through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in, the vile malignancy has surfaced. For the most part this sickness started manifesting itself in relatively small flare-ups, but lately major outbreaks have erupted erupts that knock everyone for a loop.

Over the past four years there has been something akin to a cancer coursing through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in, the vile malignancy has surfaced

My sadness over my neighbour’s sickness is compounded by a strong feeling of frustration. You see, the illness, hideous though it is, is absolutely curable. Other neighbours in our community have suffered from similar afflictions, and have taken appropriate actions to remedy the situation, and rid themselves of the demon. But many of my semi-detached neighbours not only refuse to consider the cure but rather insist on confronting the disease by applying even more disease.

We have been good neighbours for so long that it pains me deeply to see this lovely big household  (mind you our house is bigger even if our family is smaller!)  afflicted in such a destructive manner. I hope that in early November, before it is too late, my next-door neighbour will realize that something must be done to eradicate this infirmity. In conclusion, I must come clean, I would be lying if I did not admit to also having a selfish desire to see my neighbour well, and that is the concern that, like popular culture, the disease may spread to our house.

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Garbage: Public And Private

The city in which I have lived all of my nearly sixty-one years decided to undertake a war on garbage. A very noble cause indeed. But I must admit there is also a bit of confusion in the signs that have been posted on many if not all trash cans.

The sign on the left clearly indicates the potential fine for littering, and informs citizens that there are plenty of garbage cans in the area. The message is simple and well put: if this can is full, there are others nearby.

If I produce litter while out (perhaps I remove the wrapper from a chocolate bar), must I hold on to it until I get home? Or can I place it in a public can?

But the sign on the left tells folks that private waste should not be put in public bins. I did not realize that there was a great difference between private and public waste. I believe that if I put my private garbage in a public trash receptacle the city will empty said can. Whereas if I keep my private trash and put it out front of my house on a Tuesday or Friday, the city will also empty it. Hmmm….

If I produce litter while out (perhaps I remove the wrapper from a chocolate bar), must I hold on to it until I get home? Or can I place it in a public can? The fines are significant so I don’t want to get nailed. If I leave home and find Kleenex in my pocket can I get rid of it in a public can?

NYC 1970s Sign

The first time I went to New York City was in 1977. It was the ‘old New York’, dirty, gritty and perhaps a little dangerous. One of the many things that struck me was the severe tone of the anti-litter signs. No soft selling, no politesse, just an in your face message.

While I appreciate my city’s gentler approach, I think the notion of private and public garbage is just a wee bit odd. It all ends up in the same place!

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